WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, helped introduce legislation to ensure Americans are still able to vote by mail during the public health crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. The Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 would expand early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail to all states and would reimburse states for additional costs in administering elections during the Coronavirus pandemic. Peters’ bill would allow states to continue their scheduled elections and protect public health. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recently announced that all Michigan voters will be mailed an absentee ballot for Michigan’s May 5th elections to protect poll workers and voters, and limit the spread of Coronavirus.
“Michiganders are making enormous sacrifices to help stop the spread of Coronavirus. Although our daily lives have been disrupted by this pandemic, we can make sure that Michiganders will still be able to exercise their fundamental right to vote without risking their health and safety,” said Senator Peters. “The State of Michigan has already been a leader in this effort, and by expanding the opportunity to vote by mail, we can ensure that voters can make their voices heard at the ballot box as we continue to fighta the spread of Coronavirus and protect public health.”
Emergencies like the Coronavirus pandemic, catastrophic weather events, natural disasters and other unexpected events can cause serious disruptions that could make it hard to administer elections and could leave voters disenfranchised. The legislation would require states to develop contingency plans so voters can still cast ballots in the event of an emergency. The bill also requires states to provide at least 20 days for early voting and no-excuse absentee voting by mail, which would allow voters to cast their ballots from home and reduce the number of people voting in person at any given time during the Coronavirus public health emergency.